A Tech Power Couple Shows Off Their Artsy, Minimalist Abode

[UPDATE: This story was originally published on November 15.]
Although you might not have heard the names Mike Matas and Sharon Hwang, you've certainly appreciated their work. Twentysomething Matas, a Seattle export, started working for Apple while still a teen, defining the user experience of products that most of us use everyday — namely, the iPhone and iPad. It was there that he met his girlfriend, Hwang, a senior art director at Apple and part of the graphics team.
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Now, the tech-y power couple has decamped for Facebook, where they'll both be determining what the social network's mobile interface will look like in 2013 … and beyond. Luckily, despite a crazy-busy schedule, the duo invited us into their home on the edge of Dolores Park. We took the grand tour, and went a bit deeper on their respective food and fashion side projects. The future, kids, is right around the bend — and it's looking bright.
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How would you describe what you do at Facebook?
"We are both designers, helping to create the future look and feel of Facebook's user interface."

What were you doing before Facebook?
Sharon: "My background is in graphic design. I was an Art Director at Apple before joining Facebook, and have also worked at Pentagram in London and Stockholm Design Lab in Sweden."
Mike: "I'm a user interface designer. I've worked at Apple, designing user interfaces for iPhone and iPad. I helped design the Nest Learning Thermostat. I've also started a digital publishing company called Push Pop Press that worked with Al Gore to create an interactive eBook about climate change. That was before Push Pop Press got acquired by Facebook."

Sharon, in an Isabel Marant dress and shoes, and Mike, in Levi's jeans, J.Crew T-shirt, and Preventi Mike Matas sneakers, relax in their living room.

Photographed by Michael O'Neal
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Where are you both originally from?
Sharon: "I'm Canadian, and have lived in Hong Kong, Vancouver, London, and Stockholm before moving to San Francisco."
Mike: "I'm from Seattle originally."

You guys have both been very successful at young ages. What's one of the best pieces of advice you've received in your career?
Mike: "If you focus on designing something you love, other people will probably love it, too. Also, only work on projects you're really passionate about."

The vintage Penguin books on the couple's shelf are from the Spitafields Market in London. They are propped up against a Vers 2Q speakers, and sit next to a Heath vase, beeswax candles from the local farmers market, and handcrafted toys from German company Holztiger.

Photographed by Michael O'Neal
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How would you describe your style?
Sharon: "I would say both of us have a similar style. Simple and comfortable."

What three items in your wardrobe get the biggest workout?
Sharon: "Stripe tops from Chance, an A.P.C. cashmere sweater, and a pair of Anniel flats."
Mike: "Preventi's Mike Matas shoes, a Sierra Designs 40/60 jacket, and Levi's jeans."

Sharon, painting in the dining room, wears a Chance top, rag & bone jeans, and Anniel flats.

Photographed by Michael O'Neal
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If you had to restrict your closet to three designers, whom would they be?
Sharon: "If i could, I'd like my wardrobe to have a very clean and simple palette with mostly A.P.C. pieces. A few occasional additions from Isabel Marant here and there for intricate details. And definitely the scarf collections from Louisa Parris for accents and colors."
Mike: "Levi's jeans because they always have the same fit and never go out of style. A pair of SmartWool socks are essential. And my Preventi shoes, since I wear them everywhere."

Photographed by Michael O'Neal
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What are your favorite S.F. boutiques?
Sharon: "Lately I love the newly opened Mill Mercantile in Noe Valley. I'm sad Metier on Sutter Street has closed down. They stocked such great pieces. I'm still waiting for an A.P.C. store to open in San Francisco."

Photographed by Michael O'Neal
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How would you describe the aesthetic of your home? How have you tried to achieve it?
Sharon: "We want it to be a simple and cozy home, a space that is well used and loved."

Mike, in his office, in a Gant shirt, Levi's jeans, and Preventi Mike Matas sneakers.

Photographed by Michael O'Neal
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What are your favorite decor pieces in your home?
Sharon: "Things that bring back memories, like a photo taken by Mike in Santorini, and a painting I did of shapes and patterns seen on our Morocco trip."

Photographed by Michael O'Neal
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Where do you draw your decor inspiration from?
Sharon: "From the years when I was living in Stockholm, I've grown to admire the clean and functional aesthetics of Scandinavian culture." 

Sharon, in the office, wears a Steven Alan dress and A.P.C. booties.

Photographed by Michael O'Neal
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Is there anything in your closet that you have yet to wear?
Sharon: "A pair of Maison Martin Margiela heels. They're a little hard to walk in!"

Photographed by Michael O'Neal
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Do you have any fashion magazines or websites that you love to browse for inspiration?
Sharon: "There are so many! A few that come to mind… I love Acne Paper for its uncoated, large format, with each edition having a unique theme. I like the Italian magazine Numéro for its beautiful photography. And on Chance's website, there's a discoveries section that documents an array of inspirational findings, from fashion to art to books and travel."

Photographed by Michael O'Neal
11 of 18
What would you never be caught dead wearing?
Sharon: "I'm not sure. I think there are many things I've never worn but would love to try."
Mike: "Zip-off hybrid pants-shorts."

What's the most treasured item in your closet?
Sharon: "A bracelet my sister gave me."
Mike: "My Preventi's Mike Matas shoes."

The couple in their hallway. Mike wears a Woolrich shirt, Levi's jeans, and Preventi Mike Matas shoes. A Louisa Parris scarf hangs on the rack.

Photographed by Michael O'Neal
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Tell us about your projects and passions outside of Facebook.
Mike: "A few years ago Sharon and I went on a trip to Morrocoo and Spain. When we got back, I took the few thousand photos I had taken and strung them together in a video. This Spanish shoe company Preventi saw the video and thought it really summed up the the vibe of their work. They put the video on their website and sent me a pair of their shoes. I fell in love with them and have been wearing them pretty much non stop ever since. Earlier this year we started talking about doing a line of shoes together. I photoshopped together a design and they went from there. The shoe is all handmade using Italian leather. The rim of the shoe is accented with wool that wraps around and lines the entire inside. It's really nice and comfortable. The shoes come in two colors, brown or grey leather, and are available in both men and women sizes."

Mike plays with the new Nest Learning Thermostat, which he helped design.

Photographed by Michael O'Neal
13 of 18
Sharon, tell us about My Cooking Diary.
Sharon: "My Cooking Diary is an online personal journal of recipes tried, delicious meals eaten, and things that inspire cooking. It started as a visual diary of my home cooking, and over the past two years it has evolved to include photography and illustrations of food adventures during our travels. Cooking to me is all about sharing with others, and it's been fun to document and share the process."

Sharon, hard at work in the couple's cottage-style kitchen.

Photographed by Michael O'Neal
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What do you love most about living in S.F.?
Sharon: "The food, the nature, and the people."
Mike: "There is such a dense community of people who are passionate about technology and design. Also: the food."

What are your top 5 favorite restaurants or cafes in the Bay Area?
"Nopa, Izakaya Yuzuki, Namu Gaji, Bar Tartine, and Ragazza."

Photographed by Michael O'Neal
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Do you think the "geeky" tech persona is an outdated stereotype?
Mike: "Definitely. The tech industry has swallowed lots of different people with lots different backgrounds making it pretty hard for it to stay geeky."

Photographed by Michael O'Neal
16 of 18
What's your coolest cheap score of late, in fashion or home goods?
Sharon: "Miniature crab apples. They are the cutest ornaments and make the home feel like autumn." 

A terrarium, which Sharon made at General Store's DIY class, sits in the office.

Photographed by Michael O'Neal
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Do you guys have any other projects on the horizon? Sharon: "BitesAroundTheBlock.tumblr.com. While My Cooking Diary is all about home cooking, Bites Around the Block is about eating out. I created this site a few months ago to document delicious meals eaten at restaurants around San Francisco, with one drawing at a time."

A piece of Sharon's art graces the mantle top.

Photographed by Michael O'Neal
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What about you, Mike?
Mike: "My site, which is a collection of photography projects over the years. Currently I'm creating a new video, stitching together thousands of photos taken on a cross country road trip when Sharon and I drove from San Francisco to New York."

The sweet duo, all couple-d up!

Photographed by Michael O'Neal
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